Foggy Days: A Story of Three Women Navigating Alzheimer’s. Part 1

Her grandmother kept asking her the same question over and over.  It was getting quite annoying.  She was trying to be patient, but why did Gram continue to ask her about her school play?  She’d already TOLD her that it was Romeo and Juliet, and that she was playing Juliet.  She’d told her three times now.  And every time her grandmother asked, her mother got a concerned look on her face, which was unusual. Usually her mother was a laidback, happy-go-lucky, everything-will-be-alright kind of a person.

Janice winced the third time Gram asked Lincoln about her school play.  This wasn’t the first time this had happened.  In fact, now that she really thought about it (or maybe she’d been in denial for a while), it had been going on for quite some time.  She’d chalked it up to old age, forgetfulness, or just plain not listening.  Heaven knew her mother was notorious for not listening.  But this seemed different.  Of all people, Gram usually gave her full attention to Lincoln, hanging on every word of her granddaughter’s life.  She twisted her hands in her lap, not liking the sense of urgency she was suddenly feeling.

Gram reached her hands above her head to stretch.  She loved afternoons with Lincoln.  She was such a bright, focused, responsible girl.  Lincoln was very unlike her own daughter, who could never seem to pay a bill on time or remember to change the laundry.  Gram had spent her entire life trying to understand why nothing she’d taught her daughter seemed to stick, but no matter anymore, because here was sweet Lincoln who was everything Gram had hoped her own daughter would be.  Lincoln was currently telling Gram all about the school play she was in, but for some reason she hadn’t mentioned the name of the play. Gram would have to ask her about that.

Lincoln finished up her homework at her Gram’s table.  The sunlight was doing its afternoon dance, exposing an unusual amount of dust on Gram’s china hutch.  That was strange….she didn’t usually notice things like dust, but Gram was always such a stickler about keeping her house immaculate.  Her mom was always moaning and complaining about how they had to be so CLEAN at Gram’s house.  Their own house was definitely not clean.  She didn’t really care one way or another, it was just two very different people. Although, if she was honest with herself, she really preferred Gram’s cleanliness.  It was much more relaxing.  But on the flip side, her mom was definitely the fun one.  

Janice hopped in her car and called the number she’d looked up earlier.  Her fingers were slightly shaking, so unusual for her.  Alzheimer’s.  There.  There was the the word she’d refused to say to herself or think about or type into her phone.  But it was time; she’d finally had to do it.  She needed to know if there was something more going on.  The doctor’s office picked up and she asked to speak to someone about what she’d been observing.  The question was, how was she going to get her mother to agree to go in for the consultation?

Gram pulled out her favorite recipe book and turned to the page so worn and smudged with food that she could barely read it anymore. But that didn’t matter; she’d had that recipe memorized for years.  Her famous chocolate pie, and she had a hankering for it.  Plus it was Lincoln’s favorite.  She started going through her cabinets pulling out ingredients.  After a few minutes she surveyed her pile: cinnamon, bay leaves, cream, cucumbers, butter, cumin, and parsley.  This didn’t seem right.  She was having one of those moments that seemed to be more common lately, where everything felt a little foggy and confusing.  She knew how to make this pie, had been making it for 40 years.  And yet, right at this moment, she couldn’t remember what went in it.  What were these ingredients she had on her counter?  What did they usually go in?  Did they make sense?  The panic gripped her throat.  She’d been trying to breathe through these moments, telling herself it was perfectly normal to forget things as you got older.  But something seemed very wrong.  Everything was upside down and murky.